FOOD HABITS OF TAMILS/PART 18

[Compiled by: Kandiah Thillaivinayagalingam]
Food Habits of Ancient Sangam Tamils-continuing........                                               

The Sangam period poem,”Porunaratruppadai,Which were written by the poet Mutathaamakkanniyaar in praise of the Chola king Karikala Chola,read like travelogues,in which poets who were returning with gifts received from a king,encourage other poets to do the same by describing in glowing terms the king and his country.Here,lines 102 – 108,Indicate how ancient tamils roasted meat on iron rods.-may be a Sangam period kabab?- and many,different shapes of pastries as given below:
"knowing the time to eat, he urged me to eat
cooked, thick thigh meat of sheep that
were fed arukam grass twisted to ropes,
and fatty, big pieces of meat roasted on iron
rods.  I cooled the hot meat pieces, moving
them from one side of my mouth to the other.
He gave more and more even when I refused
them again and again.
He served us many tasty pastries in many
shapes, and urged me to stay."
Further,Upanishad  well  said  that ,“Everything in the universe is food.We eat some.Some eat us and In Sangam era, We understand that,no poet speaks bad of meat-eating & liquor drinking.Only the growth of Brahmanical Hinduism,Jainism,and Buddhism made Tamils value vegetarianism and non-drinking as good qualities worthy to follow. 
Moving from dishes more popular to others less popular or almost not in use in today’s kitchen,we come to few recipes such
as winged termites,and pomegranate seeds fried in butter[pomegranate curry].In sangam poem,Akananuru 394,Natrinai 59 and Purananuru 119 clearly mentioned about the habit of consuming termites,which is still continued even to this day among the Irula tribes of the Nilgiri mountains,in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala,India,as well as malasar tribes of the foothills of the Anamalai hills in southern India.Malasar may be the corrupt from of Malai Arasar meaning king of the hill (malai meaning hills and arasar meaning king).They are distributed in the Palghat district of Kerala and the Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu.winged termites,[Eeyal/ஈயல்] have a very short life span?They are all over the place when it has rained in the night, Early in the morning they are found in good quantity in anthills.These mountain-folks catch these termites and eat them even today.I am giving below one of the poem, Akananuru 394, which clearly states that termites from red mounds were cooked in curries with tamarind and sweet buttermilk and enjoyed by the ancient Tamils.

"Your servants eat mature curds,
the off-white color of sheep with
small heads, with fine threshed
millet and white ants from termite
mounds after the rains, mixed with
sweet tamarind in the meal with
melted white butter from red cows."[lines,2-7]

Similarly,Perumpanatruppadai describes pomegranate curry,cooked by pomegranate seeds fried in butter,as below.A pomegranate is a delicious fruit commonly eaten throughout India & Srilanka. It has a hard outer covering encasing bright ruby red seeds,which are the edible portion of the fruit.Pomegranates are considered a super food because they are a wonderfully rich source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folic acid & antioxidants.Dried pomegranate powder (known as anardana powder) is a commonly used spice especially in North Indian cuisine.However,in this ancient dish,fresh pomegranate seeds were used.

"and you will be given dishes
made with freshly opened pomegranates mixed
with warm butter from fragrant buttermilk of tawny
cows, mixed with fresh curry leaves and black pepper.
You will also receive fragrant vadu mango[Maavadu / Baby Mangoes] pickles
from tender green mangoes from tall trees."[lines,306-310]

பகுதி/PART :19 தொடரும்/WILL FOLLOW 

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